The headlines about Mary Treadwell's alleged thefts from the government and the poor people at Clifton Terrace make me feel bad. Real bad. For like many other Washingtonians, I recall Pride's beginnings, and how good we all felt when Marion Barry chose the losers who were burning the city as his constituents.
But as Pride's name gets tossed about within the dirty details of this story, I have to keep reminding myself that Pride itself is not the villian, that the idea of working with poor, young losers is not under attack here.
What's been tainted are the spinoff enterprises such as P.I. Properties Inc. that was headed by Mary Treadwell, Mayor Barry's former wife. What we're talking ab out is the greed of some individuals.
It would be too bad if the poor people like the folks at Clifton Terrace are the double victims. They have allegedly been robbed blind. If now, self-help programs for the poor get short shrift in future budget hearings, they'll be getting even more of the business.
I was reminded of another way they're being victimized by another, smaller headline in yesterday's newspapers.
The Exxon Corporation announced, with pride, this week that its profits were $1.14 billion (up 120 percent) for the third quarter. This word from the world's largest oil company comes when the poor at Clifton Terrace are trying to decide between heating and eating.
To say that excessive profits raise merely a whimper is not to belittle the alleged fraud and theft of Treadwell, Joan M. Booth, Treadwell's sister, and Robert E. Lee Jr., the P.I. general manager. But it does argue for some perspective.
For there is a common thread here.It is that in both the cases the poor are the most victimized.
Most of the scandals have thus far dealt with the Department of Housing and Urban Development's relationship with the P.I. Properties. But some congressmen are likely to make the leap to the District government as they survey the mess that already is begging for some greater response from Mayor Marion Barry.
But their leaps of logic could contain yet another hazard for the citizens of this city, including the Clifton Terrace poor.
The mighty Congressional Fathers of this stepchild city should not now decide that blacks cannot rule themselves and do not therefore deserve home rule.
When half of the brain behind a novel selp-help group seemingly chooses to put aside her ideals and principles in a frenzy of greed, the lure to spread the blame is to some nearly irresistible. But it would be the height of tragic irony if the city's poor young folk end up as the ultimate, triple victims of the greed.